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How many times have you heard a weird noise in your car? You know the one. It’s a rattle, a squeak, or a clunk that starts while you’re driving. You turn down the tunes and stretch your ear, trying to figure out where the noise is coming from in your car and whether or not it sounds major. However, one noise that you recognize quickly, and man, does it get under your skin when it happens, is windshield wiper chatter.

The rain starts, and you flip on the wipers, only to be greeted with the most annoying chatter. Your wipers start skipping across the glass as if they don’t belong there. The worst part is that the wipers aren’t clearing your view as intended. Here are the maintenance tips for how to stop that infuriating windshield wiper chatter.

What is windshield wiper chatter, anyway?

Windshield wipers operating during rain for a driver in Warsaw, Poland
Windshield wipers operating during rain | Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you haven’t experienced the annoying sound of windshield wiper chatter yet, you likely will at some point in your driving and car ownership journey. Firestone Complete Auto Care describes the occurrence as the “obnoxious chattering” when wipers engage. Instead of clean, quiet, smooth swipes across your windshield, they start skipping and thumping, often leaving streaks and smears.

Not only is windshield chatter a nuisance on the ears, but it’s also impeding your visibility while driving. The other caveat is that since you’re not driving in the rain all the time, chattering wipers isn’t something you really notice until you actually need your wipers to work. So, it might be helpful to sample your wipers when you don’t need them to spot windshield chatter before it becomes a problem.

What can you do to stop windshield wiper noise?

If you’re in a hurry and can’t stop driving your car to examine your wipers, you might have to deal with the chatter until you arrive at your destination. However, you’ll want to investigate a few potential causes when the chattering starts. It could be that your wipers are just dirty and need a good cleaning. Debris or ice during the winter could simply prevent the wipers from making proper contact with the windshield glass.

Warm soapy water works best to clean your wipers. Additionally, proper cleaning of your windshield could also help. Strong glass cleaners are great, as are rain-repellent solutions. Suburb Service suggests refilling your windshield wiper washer fluid, too, so you can keep your blades and windshield clean while driving. However, if, after cleaning your wipers, you continue to experience the annoying wiper chatter, you could have other problems.

Other contributing factors to consider

If you’re experiencing windshield wiper chatter, even after you’ve attempted to clean your wipers, you could have other problems. In the event your wiper blade becomes bent, for example, it could create a gap where the blade is supposed to meet the glass. If, upon inspection, the blade isn’t aligned with the glass properly, you could use a pair of pliers to bend the arm back into position. Or you could have your trusted mechanic take a look for you.

Unfortunately, if you’re still contending with windshield chatter after assessing these common issues, it might just be time for full wiper replacement. Auto Zone recommends changing your wipers every six to 12 months to accommodate normal wear and tear. So, if you’re within that window of time, your chatter could be a sign it’s time for wiper replacement.

Of all the noises you experience in your car, windshield wiper chatter might be one of the most annoying. Consider these tips and insights when it happens to you. Then, if you still can’t figure it out, your auto technician might be able to help, at least with putting on replacement wipers.


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